Greetings fellow Romers!
Congratulations on your decision to spend your semester abroad in the Eternal City! These four months will be ones you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I had my own life changing experience at JCU during the Spring of 2008 when I spent a semester in Rome and loved every second of it. A semester abroad has incredible potential to allow you to learn, grow and adapt to unfamiliar surroundings. I’m excited to offer some advice and suggestions on how to make the most of it, but first let me share a bit about myself.
I spent my childhood summers traveling with my family across Europe. Every summer, you ask? Yes, every summer. While it seems amazing, these weren’t joyrides at the time. Instead, they were serious family travel expeditions; not because we were exploring unmapped territory, but rather because we were finding and carving out the most exciting experiences across Europe. We did this because it was my father’s job. My dad is Rick Steves, the travel guidebook writer and travel TV host that you might have heard of. It’s hard to go a day in Rome, Paris or Berlin without seeing one of his guidebooks, bags or other piece of merchandise toted along by backpackers and travelers.
Traveling with my dad built a lot of character. To teach me how to travel, he’d put me on the next metro car in Paris, tell me where to change and where to get off and then say “see ya on the other end”. This was when I was 8 or 9 years old. So, by the time I studied abroad in Rome at JCU, I knew how to get around. Studying abroad, however, opened my eyes to a new city and a new continent; it let me really plug into the local culture than makes Rome such an incredible city. I uncovered hidden culinary gems, and was able to connect with locals in ways simply impossible on a grand continental tour.
Ever since my time at JCU, I’ve been helping students make the most of their semester abroad. I’ve realized it really comes down to you, the individual. It’s up to you to break yourself out of your American shell, to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and bridge the cultural gaps you encounter. Don’t let yourself fall in to a routine because your time abroad absolutely flies by. Passive students finish their semester and respond when asked how their semester abroad was by saying “it was cool”. The students that I’ve enjoyed collaborating with can recount the sights, sounds and experiences as if they were yesterday because they pushed themselves beyond what was familiar and easy. They stayed active, got involved, traveled and met people from different backgrounds, etc etc. I’m excited to help share tips, answer questions, etc, about my experience growing up and at JCU. The possibilities are endless!
Welcome to Rome, John Cabot, your semester abroad and countless life changing experiences!
Andy Steves (Notre Dame ’10, John Cabot Spring ’08) helps students make the most of their time and money while overseas through an online resource and weekend city packages for the students abroad in Europe. Check out www.wsaeurope.com for more on Andy and free online resources like recommended mobile apps, tips on finding cheap flights, great hostels and more. He’s given travel workshops at JCU and more than 30 other campuses across Europe each semester since launching Weekend Student Adventures upon graduation from ND back in 2010. He’ll be visiting JCU once more during orientation week so be sure to come out and say hi!